Mathew was laying in his bunk, staring at the blank ceiling only a few feet above his head wondering how difficult it would be to fall asleep in it later that night.
“Hey.” Jonathan said from his own bunk across the room. “Where's our third guy?”
“Dunno.” Mathew said. “I guess he'll be our Flight Leader.”
“I guess so.” Jonathan said.
McKeen knocked at the open doorway. “Meal hour, let's go.” he said.
Both of them looked from the doorway to each other, and then back again before scrambling out of their berths to try and squeeze through the opening at the same time. When they got to the common room, a few more junior officers had arrived with their bags.
Mathew frowned. They were all Second Lieutenants, no one of higher rank than himself. “Which one of you belongs to Bravo Flight?” he asked.
A dark haired robust man lifted his hand. “I am.” he said.
Mathew pointed behind himself. “Left through there, you'll see Bravo pretty clearly. Jonathan Flemming and I took the side bunks, so you have the one on the far side from the doorway.”
“Sounds like a small room.” said the young officer. “I'm Pierre Goulet.”
“Mathew Dionne.” he replied, hand extended. “Flemming there is the third one in the room.”
Jonathan waved from across the common room.
“You might want to hurry.” Mathew said, “Maybe even just drop your bags and then come with us to meal hour.”
“Okay.” Pierre said, nodding. “I'll be right back.”
They waited, and when Pierre returned from the room, the three of them left the module. In the corridor, the other modules were also leaving for their meal. Mathew hoped that at least someone in the gaggle knew where they were going because he sure as hell didn't. They came to an elevator and had to wait because the volume of people was too great for the capacity of the lift.
“You know we can take the stairs.”
Mathew spun around. Behind him stood the hourglass shape of a woman. “What?”
“There's more than one way to get to the mess.” She said.
“Well then, lead the way.” said Jonathan.
“I will.” She said, indignantly before stepping off.
“Jesus.” Jonathan spat. “What's her problem?”
Both of them turned to a tall man standing amidst the others waiting for the lift. He bore the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, with the name 'Almitt' sewn onto his name tag.
“She's from a wealthy family and seems to think she's queen shit.” he continued. “Her name is Ismaly Sylphrena, and she's a royal pain in my ass since I took over as Squadron Leader of the one fifteenth.”
The three looked down the corridor at her as she continued on her alternate route. Her hips swayed with every step and all of them would agree that the flight suit didn't ruin her curves.
“Damn.” came a voice from the crowd.
“I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole.” said one of them as the lift returned and the group made their way in.
Mathew recognized that voice, it was Harken 'Drenix' Sein, one of the young officers that recently graduated with him and was assigned to the Scipio. “Oh come on Harken, you turned your head with the rest of us.”
Harken laughed, “I won't disagree with you there, but that doesn't mean I'd ever try to hit that. She's not even in my flight and she annoys the shit out of me with her damn high roller attitude.”
“She's in mine.” said Jamie, another candidate from Mathew's crew. “She got her way back at the academy and had personal quarters. You can imagine how she flipped when she found out she was going to be crammed into a ten by ten with two other guys.”
The lift reached it's destination and the group filtered out. The new blood stood outside the lift, disoriented as Almitt passed them; they followed.
When they reached the mess, Ismaly was already in line.
“Well she beat us.” Jamie said.
Mathew smiled. “Indeed she did.”
They got into the meal line behind Almitt, picking up trays as they passed by the dispenser.
“So what's for dinner?” Almitt asked Ismaly who was walking past them with her tray.
“Slop.” she commented with disgust.
Almitt laughed “Slop fit for a princess.” he said between chuckles.
“Fuck off.” she said angrily and stomped off.
After they picked up their own slop from the mess, the group made their way to the tables. Mathew noticed McKeen and nodded to Jonathan. They made their way to him and sat down. Almitt had followed and sat next to McKeen.
“So these are your new guys?” Almitt asked.
“Yup.” McKeen answered, sticking food in his mouth.
“You guys all fresh from the Academy?”
The three nodded, and others at the table did also.
“Jesus.” Almitt sighed, shaking his head.
“Everybody starts somewhere” Mathew commented, giving Almitt a stern glare.
McKeen nudged Almitt. “Where are yours?”
“Most of them are here, these two” He pointed to Drenix and Sandman. “They're in Alpha with me. Bravo has Hardball as the flight leader.”
McKeen almost choked. “Hardball is a flight leader?”
“Yeah, well we're low on experience McKeen.”
“Sorry, go on.”
“Hardball has those two.” He pointed to a man and woman eating near the end of the table. “The guy is Wesley Levesque and I think the girl is Amy Snow.”
“Amy McAllister, Snow's her callsign.” said Drenix.
“My bad, Amy McAllister. Anyway, Charlie Flight is run by Ribs, he's got two decent pilots from their paperwork. Rook and Slab are their callsigns, can't remember their names at the moment.”
Drenix swallowed. “Rook is Francine Tansowny and Slab is Evan Dougherty. Francine's the redhead over that way.”
Most of the guys at the table looked in the direction Drenix had pointed. They were completely conspicuous, and she glared back at the mass of them, confused and embarrassed, her face nearly as red as her hair.
Pierre nodded in approval. “She's hot.”
“She's hot too, who's that one?” McKeen said, pointing toward Ismaly.
The entire table nearly groaned at once.
Almitt sighed. “She's one of mine too.”
“Not cool. Remember that conversation we had with Hattrick about how a girls personality can totally destroy her looks?”
“Well, she's the perfect example of that scenario. Nice tits, nice ass, pretty face, blond; all of the above grade A. The second she opens her fuckin' mouth though.”
McKeen laughed. “Is it that bad?” He looked around the table and most of them were nodding slowly. “Really?” He said, disappointed.
Almitt was wiping his mouth before he spoke. “Yeah, her parents own part of AlterMond. They're filthy rich.”
“Can she fly?” McKeen asked.
Almitt shrugged. “I guess we'll find out tomorrow morning.”
Mathew's eyes widened. “There's a sortie tomorrow?” he asked, food spilling from his mouth.
McKeen nodded. “Order came down just before we came to the mess. The Admiral wants us training in low orbit and atmo until the Scipio is ready to get underway.”
Mathew smiled, he was good at atmospheric flying and transitions. “Looking forward to it.”
“You're all on free time until four hundred hours tomorrow.” McKeen continued.
“Why so early?” asked Jonathan.
“Because you all need to do the administration for your hornets before we spool up.”
The table lit up with excitement and chatter.
Mathew looked over his shoulder to see Ismaly sitting by herself. He thought he could see a small glint of wonder in her eyes, somewhere beyond the high and mighty aura that seemed to take up every empty seat at her table.